About Me

With a lifetime of experience applying outdoor activities to therapeutic settings in forensic childcare, homelessness, youth justice and health, I am now semi-retired and offering coaching and awareness sessions to individuals, families and small groups, primarily on the water in the South & SW UK, based in Weymouth. Land-based or water-based sessions.

Whilst I no longer work in child safeguarding, I have honed my creative skills and business in woodworking, mechanical, marine and garden projects. It’s the same problem-solving that I enjoy!

So, what is this site offering?

  • Outdoor activity teaching, especially water-based
  • Household and boaty projects, especially conundrums
  • Journalist/writer
  • A few bits for sale
  • A blog for my own fun

Get in touch if you think I might help. Some stuff is free: Advice and some work for charities. Other work ranges from very reasonable to knowing what I am worth! I am happiest when I spend the morning pressure-washing or hedge-cutting, the afternoon teaching on the water and an evening writing my latest yachty article. Maybe the next day musing on how to hang a 60 kilo screen on a 3mm plywood substrate. Or just go sailing.

My Story

After an unimpressive schooling, I started work in London to train as a legal executive. In less than a year I jumped ship and embarked on a mixture of electrical retail and then press photography with a couple of seasons as Senior River Leader for the ubiquitous PGL Holidays company. In my mid-twenties I found a career in Social Services at West Sussex’s Observation & Assessment centre & Secure Unit. Where I also set up a darkroom!

From my early teens, I had started kayaking in Switzerland, then Surrey and the UK south coast with Chichester Canoe Club. So, with my baptism in Social Services at the hard face, I introduced outdoor pursuits, qualified as a swimming teacher, mountain leader, climbing instructor and counsellor. And learnt a lot about disregulated staff and children. I also competed in slalom competition and later qualified as a slalom trainer.

In my early thirties I accidentally (?!) set up a tiny family business, Outdoor Activity Training which started with Sea Survival courses and kayak instruction but quickly flourished and also traded as Canoestore, providing retail, hire and instruction from a showroom at Emsworth, Hampshire at the back of Chichester Harbour. With sales to France and in Spain where we also led river groups in the Avalon and Odessa mountain regions, based at Huesca and Torla. I simultaneously worked for Hampshire Children’s Services at Glen House. The business closed when my wife, Carol, and our book-keeper friend Pearl were both killed by a drunk driver. After a brief period of leave, I continued at Glen House and qualified as a social work practice teacher and then a stint at Southampton community teams. I began to receive requests to work in joint operations with the police, especially child abuse network investigations.

On re-marrying, I moved to Devon with my second wife, her daughter and our baby son, Sam. I provided safe housing for child victim witnesses in ongoing investigations and prosecutions whilst I was studying and after I qualified in Child Forensic Psychology & Law at Portsmouth University. In Plymouth I worked in a similar role with Intervention, Community and Care Leavers teams and also Devon Youth Offending Service. I made myself useful with Devon Outdoor Education as a climbing, archery, caving, team-building and canoeing instructor, often selected to lead residential groups from social work and health settings.

In 2003 I was approached to co-create a Super-PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) called Voyager which ran for over 10 years for which I set up three of the six teams, led on water-based activities and child protection, re-writing the Devon EWO child protection policy and system. I delivered lectures, training and advised on Child Safeguarding and ‘Children Out Of School’ engagement strategies at local colleges, Street Pastor teams and local youth charity provisions.  

In 2006 I started work with Devon & Cornwall Housing Association as Senior Training and Employment Advisor, based at Plymouth Foyer, a 50 person supported living unit for 16-25yr olds. I qualified as a teacher and ran a City & Guilds self-improvement course across both counties in multiple locations in conjunction with three fund-holding colleges. And acted as Internal Verifier for a multi-agency learning consortium. I also set up an IT suite and helped install a media centre. 

I became increasingly involved in Youth Offending work as Plymouth’s Referral Panel Senior Chair. A voluntary post that I held for over 10 years from the inception of Referral Panels in 2002. I served as a Director of the National Referral Panel Association. Referral Panels are a highly effective restorative justice solution for first time young adult offenders. At about this time, I got involved in Solution Focussed Therapy (SFT) and completed a qualifying course in its practice with Plymouth University. Whilst at Plymouth Foyer, I introduced climbing, swimming, educational workshops and initiated a Sail Training Programme that resulted in a lot of fund-raising to send over 100 young people from the region on about 20 voyages to Scandinavia, Europe, UK and the USA, mostly with Ocean Youth Trust, Tall Ships Youth Trust and Cirdan Sailing Trust.

I better slot in the ‘Sweden’ years, near Sodertalje and Are with sailing, kayaking and skiing respectively, including teaching Eskimo rolls to the Swedish! And working in Guernsey for Foster Care Associates; some time in Malta, kayaking and sailing. And regular time in Spain with my very good friends Seagull and Concha. Sam and I would detour to see them before and after skiing!

In my twenties I bought and rebuilt a plywood Silhouette 17’ sailboat. Then built a Leisure 23SL from mouldings. Next was a Snapdragon 24 fin keeler which I sailed to Brittany and berthed her near La Roche Bernard for 5 years. Replaced by my current yacht, a Moody 36, until 2022 in the Solent, now in Weymouth.

And, lastly, my swansong to date was as an intervention worker (see articles – other) for an educational subcontracted CIC, ‘On Track Education’ at their Devon base. I reviewed all their national policies, working in conjunction with the policy non-executive director, and re-wrote their driving policy. And no surprise that I introduced and ran climbing, sailing, kayaking, swimming and carpentry activities and certification schemes whilst working with some of the most disadvantaged, angry, unregulated children and young people that I have ever had the honour to mentor, mostly in a bid to prepare them for re-entry into group education. Let alone, occasionally to mainstream schools. Every single one of them deserved a far better deal in life. And, of course, my training in child safeguarding came to the fore and further honed my understanding of the behavioural sciences, causation, effect and solutions. And again, back to the field of changing minds and hearts, not of just the children but of the entire systems that had failed to prevent their isolation and referral to us. Changing adult minds and behaviours is often a harder task than changing children’s behaviours.

Was my destiny fated? My mother as crew in her father’s kayak circa 1930

  Since 2019, my sister and I increasingly supported our ill mother in Surrey and when she had to be admitted to a nursing home which coincided with the first Covid lockdown, I moved into her house full time. That is where my ‘homes and gardens’ maintenance and various construction projects really took off. From renovating the house and gardens to those of neighbours until work spread to many roads by recommendation. When my mother passed away and the house sold, I returned to Exeter, where I had also worked on mostly 16th and 17th century period properties in the Exeter area for some years and since. I have three step-children and one son, Sam.

For some years now I have also been a contributor to the national boating press, mostly for Time/IPC Practical Boat Owner. See ‘articles’ section. I sail a Moody 36 with my partner of the last 19yrs, Annie. We paddle sea and white-water kayaks, cycle, swim and renovate period property and broken stuff as the mood inspires. And due to travel restrictions, we have taken to touring the UK in our micro-camper thingy – oh and the odd B&B and hotel. Amazing stuff on our own ‘doorstep’. Annie is an ex-psychology department manager, bookworm and Camino walker with a background in the classics. 

My latest project is copying my cherished but too heavy old creek kayak, a rare (in UK) Dagger Animus – in a balsa / epoxy / glass / basswood composite with fittings moulded in organic plastic (milk & vinegar). Target weight is 10kg with 90% non-oil constituents.